Revealed: soldiers who stormed Parliament threatened and assaulted MPs

Colonel Joe Punamane, Sam George, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, ABA Fuseini Colonel Joe Punamane, Sam George, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, ABA Fuseini

Details of the activities of the soldiers from the Jubilee House, who stormed Parliament exactly a week today, during the election of the Speaker, is beginning to pop up with revelation of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram in the Greater Accra Region that, he was threatened with assault by the Commander of the contingent.

According to Sam Nartey George, Colonel Joe Punamane, the head of the Presidential military guards, had threatened to physically assault him, upon telling him in the face that their presence in the Chamber of Parliament, amounted to a military takeover of the country, therefore, a treasonable offence.

Mr George, revealed that an angry-looking Col. Punamane, who together with his soldiers were armed to the teeth with military assault rifles, threatened to assault him, however, he, George and his colleague MPs, were resolute until Col Punamane and his men left the Chamber of Parliament.

They did this by singing patriotic songs, including the National Anthem and revolutionary songs, while urging the soldiers to walk out from the floor of the House for the election of the Speaker which had become a contentious issue, following attempts by MPs-elect on the side of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to defile the secret balloting process, to continue.

The Ningo-Prampram MP, who revealed this on Accra-based Metro TV, said that immediately the election of the Speaker was over and Parliament adjourned by the new speaker, Alban Bagbin, Colonel Punamane, approached him to apologise to him and begged for forgiveness over the threat of assault he had issued.

The MP, who is on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), also revealed how difficult it was for the NDC MPs, who had insisted on the sanctity of the secret balloting process as specified by the 1992 Constitution, to literally force out the soldiers who are based at the Presidency, from Parliament.

He disclosed that, after the soldiers had left the floor, they went to position themselves behind the Speaker's dais refusing to leave, however, the NDC MPs, insisted unless they left the Parliament building entirely, they were not going to allow the election of the Speaker to proceed. This continued until the soldiers left.

The Herald has meanwhile, picked up reports that the soldiers led by Col Punamane, shoved Kennedy Agyapong, NPP MP, when he attempted to stop them from getting into the Chamber.

The Assin Central MP and his colleague, Kobina Tahir Hammond of Adansi-Asokwa Constituency, in the Ashanti Region, had been described in various complimentary terms, following their peaceful posturing on the day.

Against the odds exhibited by Ursula Owusu, Carlos Ahenkorah, Hawa Koomson among others, the two became peace brokers on the side of the NPP, imploring the NDC MPs-elect to allow peace to prevail for the election of the Speaker to happen.

Their postures on the day, had earned them lots of praise in both the media, as well as their colleagues from the NDC side of the House, this is because they are not known to be agents of peace, but on the day they surprised many Ghanaians.

The MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, has also disclosed that he was manhandled by some military persons during their invasion of the August House at the inauguration event on the dawn of January 7, 2020.

He said, in his attempt to stop the military from interfering in the electoral process, he was tased by a soldier.

According to him, he was 'forced' to sit quietly for a while after his right hand went numb due to the effect of the taser.

He described the incident as shameful and unfortunate.

"When the soldiers stormed parliament they told us they are here to take over and conduct the elections. We told them it's not done that way and so they should move out. I was in braces and jacket and so as the confrontation got heated I was tased by a military man who was holding a taser. He narrated on Adom FM's morning show Dwaso Nsem.

"When I was tased, I felt very numb in my hand and for over two hours I had to sit down because my right hand was 'dead'. What happened was very bad," he recounted.

Military and police personnel stormed parliament to restore order after confusion degenerated during the election of Speaker of Parliament and the commencement of the 8th Parliament.

In a very dramatic low-point for Ghana's democracy, the MPs chanted in the face of the military, urging them to leave.

They subsequently left the chamber even though Ghanaians are yet to find out who ordered them to take such actions.

Meanwhile, like Peter did to Jesus Christ, hours before his crucifixion, Col Punamane and his men, have been denied by everyone including the former Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul.

Col Punamane, is said to be at the Presidency Annex, but until that appointment, he was the Director of Port Security at Tema.

Civil society organizations, ordinary citizens, as well as MPs, mainly from NDC side of the House continue to question who sent or called in, Col Punamane and his armed soldiers to the chamber of the Parliament, but it does not look like the Colonel or his superiors at the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) will respond to accusation of trying to stage a Parliamentary mutiny.

There was no Parliament and there was no President at the time. The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who was in the premises of Parliament to swear in the Speaker at the time, fled when the military started advancing towards the Chamber. It is not clear, who prompted him to leave.

He later returned to swear in the Speaker-elect, Alban Bagbin, albeit hurriedly failing to even sit for the Speaker's inaugural address.

The Standing Orders of Parliament, prohibits weapons in the Chamber of Parliament, and it is unclear whether the military invasion and other chaotic incidents witnessed in Parliament on the day will be investigated by a by-partisan committee of parliament when the House resumes for business.

The MP for Damango, Samuel Abu Jinapor, who until recently was a Deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency and said to have been seen together with the ongoing Minister of Defense, Dominic Nitiwul leading the soldiers into the Chamber, has denied doing so.

Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, the MP for Bimbilla in the Northern Region, has also denied allegations by Tamale Central MP, Murtala Mohammed, that he ordered the military invasion into Parliament.

Although, Murtala Mohammed had insisted on seeing and hearing his counterpart from the Northern Region, Nitiwul making the phone call, and had warned him against the move.

The Chief Marshall of Parliament, Col. John Buntugu Rtd., also denied ever inviting the military personnel into the Parliamentary chamber on Thursday dawn during the inauguration of the 8th Parliament.

The denials, leave the outgoing Interior Minister Ambrose Dery, MP for Nandom Constituency in Upper West Region, Francis Asenso-Boakye, the MP for Bantama in the Ashanti Region and former Deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency in-charge of Operations and Daniel Kweku Botwe MP for Okere in the Eastern Region, who have all been mentioned as part of the decision to send the military into the chamber.

But they are yet to confirm or deny the claim against them.

The presence of the armed military, has since attracted condemnation from the MPs and other relevant bodies with some holding the marshal of parliament responsible, since he is in charge of the general security of the House.

But denying the claims, Col. John Buntugu Rtd., said: "We have a police station in the Parliament House, but it is under the Marshal of Parliament. We don't have soldiers. The soldiers were not under my instruction. I don't know what actually happened [but] I saw them in the Chamber and I spoke with their commanders when I realized that it was counterproductive, and they left".

Dominic Nitiwul, reacting to the allegation that he ordered for the military, the MP denied the claims, saying "It got to a point that Members of Parliament themselves were a danger to themselves.

A danger to Ghana. Any Member of Parliament could have used a knife or an offensive weapon on another".

He indicated that the Soldiers were on the premises for the inauguration of the President and sensing danger had to come in to protect the MPs, who were engaged in near fisticuffs.

"In any case, if you need them or they sense that at a point the MPs are a danger to themselves, at least they will come and protect us, and … that was exactly what happened. Nobody called them," Nitiwul said.

The lawmaker further indicated that he told Murtala of the presence of the military.

"I gave him the information, and anybody who cares to know, I think one or two MPs were standing by the Majority when I told them that, 'Look, there are soldiers and police all around to protect you, to protect me and to protect the state tomorrow."

The only MP who has publicly appreciated the professionalism of Colonel Joe Punamane and his men, has been Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini of the Sagnarigu Constituency, Northern Region.

He said after storming the House, when issues were explained to the soldiers, they orderly matched out.

Source: www.theheraldghana.com